Arizona Gone Wild: Does New Bill Give State the Right to Overthrow Federal Government?

How did this latest episode in "Arizona Tea Party Gone Wild" get by the state's attorney general Tom Horne?

While the Canadian immigrant Tom Horne has been obsessed with banning Tucson Unified School District's academically successful Mexican American Studies program for allegedly promoting "the overthrow of the United States government" and "resentment toward a race or class of people," the state's Senate President Russel Pearce and his Tea Party legislators introduced a bill this week to grant a committee the right to nullify "existing federal statutes, mandates and executive orders."

Or, as long-time Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini notes, it gives Arizona the right "to secede without officially doing so."

Less than a month since President Obama made his widely praised speech in Tucson after the tragic shooting of US Rep. Gabby Giffords, reminding the nation that "together we thrive," Arizona's fringe Tea Party in control of the legislature has made good on its promise to challenge the feds at the state's border.

Under the guise of "respecting" the US Constitution, the new bill paradoxically adds for good measure: "This state and its citizens shall not recognize or be obligated to live under the statute, mandate or executive order."

In effect, as Phoenix's KPHO-TV reports, this bill would "allow a committee of 12 people -- six from the House and six from the Senate -- to recommend to the full Legislature which laws they think are unconstitutional."

Alongside Gov. Jan Brewer, Senate President Pearce obviously revels in defying federal authority and laws. From immigrant policy to international jurisdiction to health care and Medicaid requirements to gun laws, the Arizona radicals are infamous for playing "chicken with the Obama administration." Last fall, Pearce joked that President Obama, who was waging "jihad"on the country, couldn't visit the state because he lacked birth papers.

The Phoenix New Times ran a eyebrow-raising story last December that traced Pearce's close association with a well-known neo-Nazi activist in Arizona.

With Pearce and his Tea Party cadre firmly in control of the Arizona legislature, this new bill is hardly being treated as another bizarre episode in extremism by Arizona's residents and observers.

Time magazine observer Nathan Thornburgh recently concluded: "The current leadership appears singularly unfit to tackle these challenges."

As I wrote earlier this month, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy dealt with a similar state rebellion in 1963 over Civil Rights, when he admonished the Senate Judiciary Committee:

States' rights, as our forefathers conceived it, was a protection of the right of the individual citizen. Those who preach most frequently about states' rights today are not seeking the protection of the individual citizen, but his exploitation. . . . The time is long past - if indeed it ever existed - when we should permit the noble concept of States' rights to be betrayed and corrupted into a slogan to hide the bald denial of American rights, of civil rights, and of human rights."

In the first days of Black History Month, with their state ranking at the bottom of health care and education charts, facing a multibillion dollar deficit, Arizonans are wondering how far their state's radical leadership will go before an incident triggers federal intervention on the level of Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957.

Tune in to "Arizona Gone Wild" next week for the answer.

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